Friday, September 30, 2016

Sunshine, Spiderwebs, and Sewer Excavation.

They are about this big
The cooler weather has triggered a massive migration...  of spiders into our apartment!   Oh, sure,  we close the door and hang signs warning spiders to keep out,   But the windows in this place are rather old and drafty.   Ok,  There are GAPING HOLES in the sills.
They like to jump on Cheryl in the shower!
  We are the only apartment that does not have new(er) windows.  They are made of wood and shriveled glue.   So,  basically, spiders and any other insect that wants to, can some into our apartment with little effort.   It kind of scares Cheryl a bit....  ever since that whole "Spider on my naked body" thing last year.  Oh, wait.  Allow me to rephrase it properly:  "SPIDER ON MY NAKED BODY!!!!"   Followed by ear-splitting screams and general hysteria.

He hangs out under the Baseboard radiator.
As for me,   I'm not very fond of spiders either.  However, I appreciate them and try not to kill them.  
 I hear if you kill one, it causes it to rain.  Is that even true?   Who made up such a thing?   Anyway, I don't want to risk another apartment flood because I get a little upset about a spider.  
All that lead up to show off this picture. 

But other than that, I do like them when they have pretty webs that catch the sunlight.   I managed to snap this pic while the sun was setting yesterday and I liked the way the light made it glow.  Too bad the web was already in dis-repair compared to a couple of days ago.  

Sewer construction in Gear
Time to dig up some Iowa Lawns!
Besides the bug problems,  the apartment is going through the sewer hook up scene that started a few days ago and is now in full swing.   The heavy equipment has been parked in our yard  for a while now and I think they are digging...somewhere close by.   We can't really see where from our vantage point.  But we can definitely see that they are tearing up the lawns of everyone involved.  I just hope it does not inconvenience us as much as it did when they put the driveway in. 
Just stay away from Subie!
I begin scoring a Pearson Project tomorrow.   I have already qualified ( last Wednesday) and now hopefully will be able to supplement our income  for the remainder of the month.  I guess Monday we will also be doing a short College board Project.   It may be just a clean up thing.  It is only supposed to last a week or less.  And all of this happens right before we head to Chicago for the Marathon.   Lovely.  

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend.   After this next week,  I'm hoping we can lose the stress a bit and just focus on scoring and the occasional stocking.  Thenks for stopping in!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cheryl's Quest for White!

BBC Entertainment
I am blaming the BBC show "Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners".  If you are unfamiliar with it, picture a bunch of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) people thrown into a living space where a Hoarder or Slob reside.  It's entertaining,   the first time.   But then it becomes repetitive.  Bottom line,  I believe we fall somewhere in the middle between these two extremes.

Guess who are the OCD people?
Cheryl is already a clean person. ( Far cleaner than I am) However,  after three episodes of this show,  we have found ourselves "cleaning"  more than our usual routine.  Cheryl has taken this a bit further and decided that the dingy parts of the under-sink need to be spruced up a bit.
It's difficult to clean when you can't see the dirt.

The OCD people clean.  That is pretty much it.   In most cases,  the people they "help" are either depressed ( and simply do not clean at ALL) or are hoarders:  Filling the rooms with so much crap that you can't see the floor or furniture.   Once the hoarders are able to rid themselves of their stuff,   The cleaning can commence and usually it is not too difficult after that.
Old paint on the back still there!

A suitable "Before" picture.  Note the Yellow Linoleum. 
For us,   the problem is the Antiquity of the place.   The style of "1950's apartment"  that has not been changed since its initial installation, shows it's age with yellow perma-dirt that can not be removed with simple hot water and intense labor.  Even harsh chemicals can not do the trick!   Time to think outside the box...

White, White, WHITE!  YEAH!
We already painted the apartment where we could.  However,   there have been places that were inaccessible at the time.  Also,  there were "situations" that required a bit of planning.   And after many distractions this year,   we are now finally able to address them.

Compare to the Before picture.

This brings in the Idea of Cheryl "re-tiling" the under-sinks.   She also has painted the backs of the bathroom and kitchen under-sinks,  even though you will probably never see it. (under-sink is a word I just made up.   What can I say?  It works.)

A "clean" space without actually cleaning.
 It actually looks pretty nice.   See,   I am a dis-believer in the idea of "spotlessly clean".  I know items get dirty and age no matter how hard you scrub.  Even harsh chemicals can only take you so far before damaging the item or surface.....and your lungs, hands and eyes.   Sometimes,  Things simply need to be replaced or thrown out.   ( or painted over!)

Cheryl will son be turning to the other rooms to replace the Red IKEA wall units with White ones.  I'm sure I will be on assembly duty when that time arrives.   In the mean time,  Chicago Marathon looms on the horizon.

Monday, September 26, 2016

IKEA, Cool Weather, Kite Flying and Bulldozers. The Calm Before The Storm!

The New IKEA shelves
We started the weekend with a trip to IKEA.   A couple of reasons being that Chicago Marathon is coming up in less than two weeks from now.
Cheryl is in charge of "Books and Accessories"

 Also,   Cheryl has been dying to spend money and replace our existing furniture!   I'm not sure why; must be a female thing.  This may be one of those great chasms that separate the men from the women.  The "old" IKEA stuff was still good,  but the color was "off".  So,  after we painted the walls a bright white,  Cheryl thinks the shelves in the living room need to be white as well. I guess it looks OK for me not to protest too much.   (Aside from my snarky comments in this blog. that is.)
Cooler Weather = Long sleeves!

Running down the Coralville path.
The weather is FINALLY cool enough to enjoy the outside without wearing nearly naked clothing.  On the run in Iowa city,  Cheryl was able to wear her long sleeve shirt the entire run.

Cheryl chases the Geese
Note the Police car stopping the let the geese cross

Aster in the morning sunlight
While running,  Cheryl chased geese while I took photos of the purple Aster and colorful caterpillars.
A close up!   VERY bright Purple.

The picture does not do the wild Aster justice.   The purple is BRIGHT!   But the bright light of the sun tends to wash it out in the camera.   I possibly could have adjusted the light filter, had I remembered at the time.   Ah well, it is just for the blog and not for a National Geographic award.  My standards are just fine.
Why so many pics of the Aster? 
Is it because I love purple so much?

Additionally,  I captured a couple pics of a Caterpillar that I have never seen before.   Close up, it looks like a colorful dessert cactus!

Actually, it is the last flower left!
Colorful Caterpillar!

After the run,   we grabbed some grub and headed tot he soccer field for some kite flying!    This is the first time I have been able to seriously spend a little time flying one.  I have a small, store-bought one I picked up at Springtown Grocery ( Amish Grocery store).   It flew pretty well after a few adjustments.    The wind was perfect for flying.   Lately, the air has been heavy and stagnant with humidity.   Maybe the cooler weather will also bring more breezy days.
Note how he looks like a cactus up close!
Great day for Kite Flying!
And finally,   the "city" of Wellman has decided that the sewer system that has been in place for the last 100 years needs to be adjusted...  right through our yard!   It is more like an add-on instead of an adjustment.   I guess the city has expanded a bit over the last 70 years and there are areas that have no sewer system hooked in.  Unfortunately, it comes right down the same path the driveway took a few years ago.   We have been told that we have nothing to worry about and that it will only inconvenience us a day or two.   If the past is an indicator,  that will translate into a week or two of not being able to park in our lot.  Right during Stocking season, as usual!
Small, $3 store kite flies high.

Time to dig up the yards of Wellman.

And tear up some fences!
This week,  right as the pleasant weather arrives,  I have a Pearson project along with an SAT project kicking off; Collegeboard;  Stockings;  And the Chicago Marathon!   Add in a possibility that our driveway will be torn up and I wonder what other stress we can add to our lives. And I was just beginning to enjoy the life of a Sloth.  Ah well,   we all need money,  right?

Hope everyone else is having a pleasant fall day today.   And thanks for stopping in and reading this rather lengthy post.   Basically I have several days of pictures to publish at any time and not enough time to write.   And possibly even less in the future.  We shall see.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Drama in a Diminutive World

The weather has heated back up and the humidity has been just short of tolerable.  With stocking sales trickling in and Cheryl's running progressing towards Chicago,  I find myself trying to stay inside as much as possible attempting to stay cool.  Cheryl has been trying to keep her training from being a constant exercise in drudgery.  We have been running in the morning  to avoid the sun and heat.   Despite this strategy,  she has still found herself melting down after seemingly "easy" runs.   The big question is when will fall finally arrive?

The Cutest Voracious Predator
So, with everything about our daily lives caught up.   Time to address the topic of his post.   Drama in our Flower Garden!

Who would want to eat this?
First,  The cat has been catching ( and EATING!) chipmunks lately.   I have found two now.   One "slightly mauled" and another half eaten!    Goodness knows what other "treats" the cat has discovered on his outdoor adventures.  I was so proud of his restraint with the rabbit.   Perhaps he has decided to stop "pulling  his punches" with the smaller stuff.  Who would ever guess under that cute, fuzzy face is a mind of a killer!

Where's the Food!   Where's the FOOD!
Time to dig in!

The hummingbirds have been voracious as of late.   I had to fill up the bird feeder once again before the leaves begin to fall.  My observations suggest that the "defender of the feeder" has moved on and now three "kids" are hitting the feeder like teenagers after a ball game!   I can tell because the three birds do not fight over the food like the parents did. Sometimes two will actually perch on the feeder together. I'll keep it stocked until the bees and yellow jackets take it over.  in the mean time,  I have been offered some great shots  and close ups.

Posing for the camera!

Notice the "comma" 
Nothing brings bugs together like rotten fruit
Speaking of Yellow Jackets,   I have been keeping them off the feeder with some rotten fruit and water melon rinds placed under the Hostas.  The rotting fruit also attract various other insects that have not been attracted by the flowers.
Note the white outline on wings
  Namely this Comma butterfly.   Not the white "C" looking thing in the under wing.   A Comma has only one mark that looks like a comma ( hence the name)  whereas a Question mark butterfly has a comma with a dot nearby.  ( similar, but not exactly like  a question mark)  This one must have just hatched because he has a white outline on his wings and his color is quite vivid.  He will lose the white ruff and bright color as his wings take a beating over the next several weeks. It's always fun to capture them while they are "pristine".

BIG "Scary" funnel spider!
And finally...  the Drama of the Micro World!    Yesterday,  I noted a VERY LARGE spider on our air conditioner.  One of those "funnel Spiders" that hide in the hole of the web until something lands on their dense matting.  And then they jump out and grab it!   This one was SCARY large and I decided to leave it alone and save my self from any future nightmares.    However, today I noticed him in the middle of his web.
I bravely inspect

I bravely inspect "closer"
This struck me a strange because they always hide in the funnel hole of the web and never outside.  A "closer" inspection  suggested he was not in his usual scary pose either.    Hmmm.   Wonder what is going on.

Note the large "blister" on the abdomen
I bravely broom down the web and pull down the spider.   I note that he does not scare the bejesus out of me as I separate him from his web.   Upon an even closer inspection ( now that I'm pretty sure he is DEAD!)  I see that he has what looks like a wound on his abdomen.  Side Note:  It is easy to be brave when the monster looks dead.
The wound looks like it was stabbed or pierced in someway.  So....I put on my best detective hat and begin to come up with theories.

A fight Ensues!
I doubt he was eaten by another spider.   Another spider would have drained him and left him in a web.   Any bird would have eaten him outright and left no trace.   However...   There have been a number of wasps and yellow jackets lately.   I happen to know that certain wasps eat Tarantulas.   But (relatively) small funnel spiders?

Who will win?  It's a death match!
My working theory is this:   A "Stinger" wasp or yellow jacket fall into the web and become tangled.  The spider.... Not a web spinner mind you,  runs out and pounces on the trapped prey...  However.   This is not an easy meal.   Instead of overpowering it directly,  the spider is forced to subdue the wasp in hand to hand combat!    A fight ensues!   The hornets secret weapon is revealed!   An unsuspecting spider "gasps" as a sharpened, venomous stinger plunges deep into its thick abdomen wall.   The venom takes effect immediately;  paralyzing the spider and causing it to shrivel up in the middle of its web.  The hornet pulls free and flies away to safety.  The spider has no hope for survival.

Looks like lady luck chooses yellow!
Not bad eh?   Further evidence for my theory was witnessed as I watched the yellow jackets from the rotting fruit area "discover" the spider I had placed on the sidewalk and began to dismember it.   Within a few minutes,  the entire spider was gone!   ( it took several trips to carry off the pieces!) Now I'm not sure the hornets were targeting it specifically,  or if dead insects or spiders are simply an opportunity to take advantage of.   Whatever the reason,   I was impress that the yellow jackets were able to take it apart so
No sense in wasting it, after all. 

I probably will never know what truly happened.   I have never witnessed the above scenario myself.   Perhaps a "real Bug Guy" would have a better answer and/or theory.  A little research on the web suggests that hornets, wasps and spiders are sometimes equally  matched.  Certain spiders and situations offer advantages over the opponent..but nothing is a given. In the mean time,   I think this could make an interesting story someday.   Provided the writer could deliver it with suspense and action.


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